Active listening is a communication
technique used in counseling, training and conflict resolution, which requires
the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker, by way of re-stating
or paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words, to confirm what they
have heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties.
When interacting, people often
"wait to speak" rather than listening attentively. They might also be
distracted. Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to
others, focusing attention on the "function" of communicating
objectively as opposed to focusing on "forms", passive expression or
There are many opinions on what
"active listening" is. A search of the term reveals interpretations
of the "activity" as including "interpreting body language"
or focusing on something other than or in addition to words. Successful
communication is the establishment of common ground between two
people—understanding. Agreeing to disagree is common ground. Common ground can
be false, i.e., a person says they feel a certain way but they do not.
Nevertheless it is common ground, once accepted as understood. Dialogue,
understanding and progress can only arise from that common ground. And that
common ground cannot be established without respect for the words as spoken by
the speaker, for whatever reason.
Thus the essence of active
listening is as simple as it is effective: paraphrasing the speakers words back
to them as a question. There is little room for assumption or interpretation.
It is functional, mechanical and leaves little doubt as to what is meant by
what is said. "The process is successful if the person receiving the
information gives feedback which shows understanding for meaning. Suspending
one's own frame of reference, suspending judgment and avoiding other internal
mental activities are important to fully attend to the speaker.
There are three key elements of
active listening: comprehending retaining responding.
Comprehension is "shared
meaning between parties in a communication transaction". This is the first
step in the listening process. The first challenge for the listener is
accurately identifying speech sounds and understanding and synthesizing these sounds
as words. We are constantly bombarded with auditory stimuli, so the listener
has to select which of those stimuli are speech sounds and choose to pay
attention to the appropriate sounds (attending). The second challenge is being
able to discern breaks between discernible words, or speech segmentation. This
becomes significantly more difficult with an unfamiliar language because the
speech sounds blend together into a continuous jumble. Determining the context
and meanings of each word is essential to comprehending a sentence.
This is the second step in the
listening process. Memory is essential to the listening process because the
information we retain when involved in the listening process is how we create
meaning from words. We depend on our memory to fill in the blanks when we're
listening. Because everyone has different memories, the speaker and the
listener may attach different meanings to the same statement. However, our
memories are fallible and we can't remember everything that we've ever listened
to. There are many reasons why we forget some information that we've received.
The first is cramming. When you cram there is a lot of information entered into
your short term memory. Shortly after cramming, when you don't need the
information anymore, it is purged from your brain before it can be transferred
into your long term memory. The second reason is that you aren't paying
attention when you receive the information. Alternatively, when you receive the
information you may not attach importance to it, so it loses its meaning. A
fourth reason is at the time the information was received you lacked motivation
to listen carefully to better remember it. Using information immediately after
receiving it enhances information retention and lessens the forgetting curve
(the rate at which we no longer retain information in our memory). Retention is
lessened when we engage in mindless listening, where little effort is made to
listen to a speaker's message. Mindful listening is active listening.
Listening is an interaction
between speaker and listener. It adds action to a normally passive process. The
speaker looks for verbal and nonverbal responses from the listener to determine
if the message is being listened to. Usually the response is nonverbal because
if the response is verbal the speaker/listener roles are reversed so the
listener becomes the speaker and is no longer listening. Based on the response
the speaker chooses to either adjust or continue with his/her communication
Active listening involves the
listener observing the speaker's behavior and body language. Having the ability
to interpret a person's body language lets the listener develop a more accurate
understanding of the speaker's message. When the listener does not respond to the
speaker's nonverbal language, (s)he engages in a content-only response which
ignores the emotions that guide the message. Having heard, the listener may
then paraphrase the speaker's words. It is important to note that the listener
is not necessarily agreeing with the speaker—simply stating what was said. In
emotionally charged communications, the listener may listen for feelings. Thus,
rather than merely repeating what the speaker has said, the active listener
will describe the underlying emotion ("You seem to feel angry," or
"You seem to feel frustrated, is that because ... ?").
Individuals in conflict often
contradict each other. This has the effect of denying the validity of the other
person's position. Ambushing occurs when one listens to someone else's argument
for its weaknesses and ignore its strengths. The purpose is to attack the
speaker’s position and support their own. This may include a distortion of the
speaker’s argument to gain a competitive advantage. Either party may react
defensively, and they may lash out or withdraw. On the other hand, if one finds
that the other party understands, an atmosphere of cooperation can be created.
This increases the possibility of collaborating and resolving the conflict.
Active listening is used in a
wide variety of situations, including public interest advocacy, community
organizing, tutoring, medical workers talking to patients, HIV counseling,
helping suicidal persons, management, counseling and journalistic settings. In
groups it may aid in reaching consensus. It may also be used in casual
conversation or small talk to build understanding, though this can be
interpreted as condescending.
A listener can use several
degrees of active listening, each resulting in a different quality of
communication. The active listening chart below shows the three main degrees of
listening: repeating, paraphrasing and reflecting.
The proper use of active
listening results in getting people to open up, avoiding misunderstandings,
resolving conflict, and building trust. In a medical context, benefits may
include increased patient satisfaction, improved cross-cultural communication,
improved outcomes, or decreased litigation. Active listening can be lifted by
the active listening observation scale.
Barriers to active listening
All elements of communication,
including listening, may be affected by barriers that can impede the flow of
conversation. Such barriers include distractions, trigger words, vocabulary,
and limited attention span.
Listening barriers may be
psychological (e.g. emotions) or physical (e.g. noise and visual distraction).
Cultural differences including speakers' accents, vocabulary, and
misunderstandings due to cultural assumptions often obstruct the listening
Frequently, the listener's
personal interpretations, attitudes, biases, and prejudices lead to ineffective
The first of these is the shift response
which is the general tendency in a conversation to affix the attention to you.
There is competition between individuals for attention and a focus on self by shifting
the topic; it is a me-oriented technique. The listener shifts from a passive position, receiver,
to an active role, sender. This is a type of conversational narcissism; the
tendency of listeners to turn the topic of conversations to themselves without
showing sustained interest in others listening. With conversational narcissism
there is a tendency to overuse the shift response and under use the support
response. A support response is the opposite of a shift response; it is an
attention giving method and a cooperative effort to focus the conversational
attention on the other person. Instead of being me-oriented like shift
response, it is we-oriented. It is the response most likely to be used by a
Overcoming listening barriers
To use the active listening
technique to improve interpersonal communication, one puts personal emotions
aside during the conversation, asks questions and paraphrases back to the
speaker to clarify understanding, and one also tries to overcome all types of
environment distractions. Judging or arguing prematurely is a result of holding
onto a strict personal opinion. This hinders the ability to be able to listen
closely to what is being said. Furthermore, the listener considers the
speaker's background, both cultural and personal, to benefit as much as
possible from the communication process. Eye contact and appropriate body
languages are seen as important components to active listening. Effective
listening involves focusing on what the speaker is saying; at times the
listener might come across certain key words which may help them understand the
speaker. The stress and intonation may also keep them active and away from
distractions. Taking notes on the message can aid in retention.
Misconceptions about listening
There are several misconceptions
about listening. The first of these is listening and hearing are the same
thing. Hearing is the physiological process of registering sound waves as they
hit the eardrum. We have no control over what we hear. The sounds we hear have
no meaning until we give them their meaning in context. Listening on the other
hand is an active process that constructs meaning from both verbal and
**The above was sourced from
Wikipedia and is formally referenced with words cited in the following
For more information or to see
complete article and references used please go HERE.
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Crisis Intervention is emergency
psychological care aimed at assisting individuals in a crisis situation to
restore equilibrium to their biopsychosocial functioning and to minimize the
potential for psychological trauma. Crisis can be defined as one’s perception
or experiencing of an event or situation as an intolerable difficulty that
exceeds the person’s current resources and coping mechanisms.
The priority of crisis
intervention and counseling is to increase stabilization. Crisis interventions
occur at the spur of the moment and in a variety of settings, as trauma can
arise instantaneously. Crises are temporary, usually with short span, no longer
than a month, although the effects may become long-lasting.
Crisis Intervention is the
emergency and temporary care given an individual who, because of unusual stress
in his or her life that renders them unable to function as they normally would,
in order to interrupt the downward spiral of maladaptive behavior and return
the individual to their usual level of pre-crisis functioning.
Types of crisis
Crises can occur on a personal or societal level. Personal
Trauma is defined as an individual’s experience of a situation or event in
which he/she perceives to have exhausted his/her coping skill, self-esteem,
social support, and power. These can be situations where a person is making
suicidal threats, experiencing threat, witnessing homicide or suicide, or
experiencing personal loss.
Societal or mass trauma can occur in a number of settings
and typically affect a large group or society. These are instances such as
school shootings, terrorist attacks, and natural disaster.
Counselors are encouraged to be aware of the typical
responses of those who have experienced a crisis or currently struggling with
the trauma. On the cognitive level they may blame themselves or others for the
trauma. Often the person appears disoriented, becomes hypersensitive or
confused, has poor concentration, uncertainty, and poor troubleshooting.
Physical responses to trauma include: increased heart rate, tremors, dizziness,
weakness, chills, headaches, vomiting, shock, fainting, sweating, and fatigue.
Some emotional responses the person may experiences consist of apathy,
depression, irritability, anxiety, panic, helplessness, hopelessness, anger,
fear, guilt, and denial. When assessing behavior some typical responses to
crisis are difficulty eating and/or sleeping, conflicts with others, withdrawal
from social situations, and lack of interest in social activities.
of crisis intervention
While dealing with crisis, both personal and societal, there
are five basic principles outlined for intervention. Victims are initially at
high risk for maladaptive coping or immobilization. Intervening as quickly as
possible is imperative. Resource mobilization should be immediately enacted in
order to provide victims with the tools they need to return to some sort of
order and normalcy, in addition to enable eventual independent functioning. The
next step is to facilitate understanding of the event by processing the
situation or trauma. This is done in order to help the victim gain a better
understanding of what has occurred and allowing him or her to express feeling
about the experience. Additionally, the counselor should assist the victim(s)
in problem solving within the context of their situation and feelings. This is
necessary for developing self-efficacy and self-reliance. Helping the victim
get back to being able to function independently by actively facilitating
problem solving, assisting in developing appropriate strategies for addressing
those concerns, and in helping putting those strategies into action. This is
done in hopes of assisting the victim to become self-reliant.
**The above was sourced from Wikipedia and is formally
referenced with words cited in the following reference section**
For more information
or to see complete article and references used please go HERE.
1. Jackson-Cherry, L.R., & Erford, B.T. (2010). Crisis
intervention and prevention. NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
2. Aguilera, D.C. (1998). Crisis Intervention. Theory and
Methodology. Mosby, St Louis.
3. Forde, S., & Devaney, C. (2006). Postilion: a
community-based family support initiative and model of responding to tragic
events, including suicide. Child Care in Practice, 12(1), 53-61.
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trauma treatment: the integrative act intervention model. Brief Treatment and
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Elements of crisis intervention: Crises and how to respond to them, Third
Edition. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, Thomson Learning.
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crisis negotiations: Critical incidents and how to respond to them. Binghamton,
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Crisis management is the process by which an organization
deals with a major event that threatens to harm the organization, its
stakeholders, or the general public. The study of crisis management originated
with the large scale industrial and environmental disasters in the 1980s.
In contrast to risk management, which involves assessing
potential threats and finding the best ways to avoid those threats, crisis
management involves dealing with threats before, during, and after they have
occurred. It is a discipline within the broader context of management
consisting of skills and techniques required to identify, assess, understand,
and cope with a serious situation, especially from the moment it first occurs
to the point that recovery procedures start.
Crisis management consists of different aspects including;
Methods used to respond to both the reality and perception
Establishing metrics to define what scenarios constitute a
crisis and should consequently trigger the necessary response mechanisms.
Communication that occurs within the response phase of
Crisis-management methods of a business or an organization
are called a crisis-management plan.
Crisis management is occasionally referred to as incident management,
although several industry specialists argue that the term
"crisis management" is more accurate.
A crisis mindset requires the ability to think of the
worst-case scenario while simultaneously suggesting numerous solutions. Trial
and error is an accepted discipline, as the first line of defense might not
work. It is necessary to maintain a list of contingency plans and to be always
on alert. Organizations and individuals should always be prepared with a rapid
response plan to emergencies which would require analysis, drills and
The credibility and reputation of organizations is heavily
influenced by the perception of their responses during crisis situations. The
organization and communication involved in responding to a crisis in a timely
fashion makes for a challenge in businesses. There must be open and consistent
communication throughout the hierarchy to contribute to a successful
The related terms emergency management and
business-continuity management focus respectively on the prompt but short lived
"first aid" type of response (e.g. putting the fire out) and the
longer-term recovery and restoration phases (e.g. moving operations to another
site). Crisis is also a facet of risk management, although it is probably
untrue to say that crisis management represents a failure of risk management,
since it will never be possible to totally mitigate the chances of
theories associated with crisis management
Crisis Management Model
Successfully defusing a crisis requires an understanding of
how to handle a crisis – before they occur.
There are 3 phases in any Crisis Management as shown below
1.The diagnosis of the impending trouble or the danger
2.Choosing appropriate Turnaround Strategy.
3.Implementation of the change process and its monitoring.
Crisis Management Planning
No corporation looks forward to facing a situation that
causes a significant disruption to their business, especially one that
stimulates extensive media coverage. Public scrutiny can result in a negative
financial, political, legal and government impact. Crisis management planning
deals with providing the best response to a crisis.
Preparing contingency plans in advance, as part of a
crisis-management plan, is the first step to ensuring an organization is
appropriately prepared for a crisis. Crisis-management teams can rehearse a
crisis plan by developing a simulated scenario to use as a drill. The plan
should clearly stipulate that the only people to speak publicly about the
crisis are the designated persons, such as the company spokesperson or crisis
team members. The first hours after a crisis breaks are the most crucial, so
working with speed and efficiency is important, and the plan should indicate
how quickly each function should be performed. When preparing to offer a statement
externally as well as internally, information should be accurate. Providing
incorrect or manipulated information has a tendency to backfire and will
greatly exacerbate the situation. The contingency plan should contain
information and guidance that will help decision makers to consider not only
the short-term consequences, but the long-term effects of every decision.
1.Building an environment of trust
2.Reforming the organization’s mindset
3.Identifying obvious and obscure vulnerabilities of the
4.Making wise and rapid decisions as well as taking
5.Learning from crisis to effect change.
Crisis leadership research concludes that leadership action
in crisis reflects the competency of an organization, because the test of
crisis demonstrates how well the institution’s leadership structure serves the
organization’s goals and withstands crisis. Developing effective human resources is vital
when building organizational capabilities through crisis management executive
Social media and
Social media has accelerated the speed that information
about a crisis can spread. The viral affect of social networks such as Twitter
means that stakeholders can break news faster than traditional media - making
managing a crisis harder. This can be mitigated by having the right
training and policy in place as well as the right social media monitoring tools
to detect signs of a crisis breaking. Social media also gives crisis
management teams access to real-time information about how a crisis is impacting
stakeholder sentiment and the issues that are of most concern to them.
**The above was sourced from Wikipedia and is formally referenced with words cited in the following reference section**
For more information or to see complete article and references used please go HERE.
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ALS/Crisis Intervention & Management Test
Prospective CFSI Coordinators must achieve a passing grade on the test to receive certification by the Center for Search & Investigations.
Upon successful completion of the CFSI ALS/Crisis Intervention & Management Test, prospective State Coordinators will be certified by The Center for Search & Investigations and receive the below
Certificate of Completion!
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